INDEX 8 December, 2008
519 Lea Bridge Road,
London E10 7EB
020 8141 0711/ 079149 76706

December 8, 2008.

Dear friends,

Almost too much seems to have happened this year. At the beginning I was filled with hope that Fenestra would become the dominant publication in the glass and glazing market but within a few months I discovered that all was not as it should be there and jumped ship, shortly before it sank. Ah well.

But it was OK, I was still getting a tolerable amount of freelance work so Fenestra didn't really matter, did it? Well, almost immediately the economy nose dived and I stopped getting freelance work. It just stopped overnight and that was it for six months.

And how lucky that was! It meant that I was able to concentrate on making my best video so far, Dogs Gone, about the last days of Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium. Dogs Gone gets its World Premier at a guerrilla theatre on December 12 and I'm trying to sell it via my web site. So far no sales but I'm filled with hope that it will make some money, the first time I have ever made any real money out of video making. Well, that's the theory anyway.

Despite a chronic lack of income for most of the year, I have spent a lot of money on fripperies like food, the mortgage and video equipment. I have also lashed out sums to go on video training courses, seminars and a festival. Will it pay off? I don't know.

Video making is a completely mad business. Everyone appears to want to make videos yet no-one seems to want to buy them. Certainly not the tv companies anyway, who mostly broadcast Shockdocs and celeb feasts made by people they have known since they were at university together. . . But the world is changing and there are all kinds of opportunities out there. The internet is bristling with video people trying out new marketing strategies. Some of them may become the billionaires of tomorrow (but don't expect me to be one of them). Ten years from now, perhaps even in five years, most people will view tv over the internet in one way or another. That means that if you can convince them to tune in to see your video, you can find a way to get it to them. The technical term is disintermediation. The gate keepers (tv executives and film distributors) will not survive.

So I made my dvd and people in the dogs' business loved it, or at least those who saw it, loved it. But the video people hated it. Good friends said: “People don't make videos like that any more.” They were trying to be nice, but the video people were saying the same thing and they were not trying to be nice.

In January, I sold my flat, twice. I was going to move out of London, buy a cheap house up north and live on the interest generated from the profit I made from the sale. It didn't work out like that. Both the people I sold it to walked away from the sale. At the time the press was full of stories about banks refusing to honour promises they had made to issue loans. It seems I was a credit crunch victim yet again.

As a result I have to work and earn enough to pay the mortgage. This summer that looked like an impossible dream. But this autumn things seemed to loosen up a bit. Work became available and suddenly I was getting lots of offers. Maybe I will be able to pay the mortgage. It certainly looks like it.

And if you want to keep in touch with what's going on in the video world London is probably one of the best places to be. I certainly couldn't have made my dogs video if I had been living in Yorkshire.

This year both my son and daughter seemed to reach the end of the educational line. Considering Laura is 29 you might say about time too! But it appears to take the kids longer to get started than it did when I was doing it 35 years ago. Laura is now earning more than I have ever earned. She is a teacher of children who have autism. She has also become a qualified psychotherapist. Arthur is just starting out as a qualified RE teacher, at a school in Barnsley, the town where Kes was set. Neither seem to have gone for the easy road but things should be less expensive for me in future years.

I went to two funerals within a week in June. In November a bloke I've known for a decade died. He was just 49 years old, considerably younger than me. It made me feel like going out and raising some hell. So far I've resisted the temptation but it may overwhelm me.

My next video project may be about a pioneer aviator who made an early flight on the Walthamstow marshes in 1909, or it may be about the American bases in Britain. Maybe I'll do both! I have already done quite a lot of work on the aviator project but I'm a little scared about tackling the bases video. If you hear I have been arrested you will know what it was all about. . .

This year for the first time in many years I didn't get on a plane or go abroad at all. Good for the environment, perhaps, but not really planned by me. I should have gone to Germany early in the year on a business trip but that got cancelled by the shenanigans at Fenestra.

Still a year without travelling by plane seems good to me. And my elderly cat, Charlie, is a massive problem if I have to be away from home for any length of time. Since he has feline Aids it would be really difficult (and expensive) to put him into a cattery. That makes it impossible to just take off. . . even if I wanted to.

Anyway, this is to wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous (and healthy) new year. I am sorry if this seems like an arrogant or perhaps an impersonal sort of missive. But if I don't send this, I won't send anything. I'd really be interested to hear about what you are up to.
8 December, 2008INDEX